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‘Rollerdrome’ Preview: Tony Hawk Meets Running Man

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‘Rollerdrome’ Preview: Tony Hawk Meets Running Man

Launching off a ramp into a backflip safety grab, I initiate the slo-mo ability and take aim on an enemy holding a rocket launcher. I point my shotgun at them, line up the sight and pull the trigger. I land with grace, and move onto the next bad guy. This is Rollerdrome

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See the trailer for Rollerdrome here:

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This extreme sports combat game feels like the child of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and 1987 action movie The Running Man. Similarly to the former, you play across a variety of levels, performing grabs and grinds while completing challenges. Like the latter, you’re fighting to survive in a dystopian bloodsport. 

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Playing on PC with an Xbox controller, the gameplay is fluid and dynamic. The roller skating has a nice weight to it, while the gunplay is smooth and generous. You don’t have to worry too much about lining up your shots, so you can keep half a mind on your tricks while firing on the assortment of enemies in each arena. 

Rollerdrome / Credit: Private Division
Rollerdrome / Credit: Private Division

Types of baddies - referred to as House Players - include snipers and heavies, as well as bat-wielding thugs, and none of them show mercy. To prosper in Rollerdrome, you’ll need to make use of the dodge mechanic. You can press B to dive out of the way of enemies whenever you like, even in mid-air, but if you perform this move right at the last moment, you’ll get a perfect dodge. 

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As I previously mentioned, there’s a slo-mo option, and this handy feature makes aiming your weapon much easier. It also makes you feel incredibly powerful, being able to initiate a sort of Max Payne-style bullet time sequence to get the edge on your opponents. 

Rollerdrome / Credit: Private Division
Rollerdrome / Credit: Private Division

As for the story, you play as Kara Hassan. Kara has entered the titular Rollerdrome competition at great expense, but is clearly there for a deeper reason as conspiracy is afoot. As the player, you’ll need to clear each level to progress the plot and, you know, keep Kara alive. 

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At the end of each match you’re awarded a letter grade, with ‘S’ being the highest rank. From what I can tell, your score depends on how quickly you beat the level, the amount of enemies you beat in one combo, and the number of challenges you complete in the round. 

Rollerdrome / Credit: Private Division
Rollerdrome / Credit: Private Division

In addition to the gameplay mentioned above, Rollerdrome also serves up brief first-person segments where you explore other areas behind the scenes of the game’s bloodsport. There are notes to find and characters to eavesdrop on, all of which add to the narrative. 

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As this is only a preview, I can’t say much more at this stage, but I can say that Rollerdrome is excellent so far. It’s a joy to dash around each arena, from the more basic indoor skatepark of the first level, to the outdoor, treacherous, snow-covered outdoor area that follows later. 

In short, the gameplay is marvellous, the artstyle is charming and the wider plot adds wonderful depth. Fingers crossed it continues this fine form, and that a multiplayer mode is on the horizon.

Rollerdrome releases for PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 August 16, 2022. Game tested on PC with code provided by publisher. 

Featured Image Credit: Private Division

James Daly
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